Visual Novel Theatre- Analog: A Hate Story

Ok, fast now.  Ship has thousands of people and big degrees of social stratification, but we’re only really made privy to two major noble families, the Kims and the Smiths.   You know, the Korean Smiths.  Those guys.  With all the timeframe that there’s been history, you’re only really privy to the last several years of the ship’s life.  The Smiths start that time period on top, but their heirs are either jerks or people with significant vices and there’s a bit of internal political problems so they go through a fall, and the Kims fill their place, largely pushed through by the hard work of their heir and the advantageous marraige of the ships emperor/captain to the Pale Bride.  The Pale Bride herself is a child from an era where the ship had a more modern culture who had a terminal disease and was frozen in suspended animation until they could develop a cure for it.  Unfortunately, whatever culture reset happened wiped out any knowledge of that, so her family’s descendents just wake her up when they need an extra girl to marry off.  There’s a lot of culture clash going on that goes really badly for her.  

So there’s that story.  The AIs already know about whatever they’re able to access and are willing to show you, but a bit of plot is devoted to getting to know them and going through things.  *Hyun-ae, your initial AI, has more of a modern let of ethics and is rather sympathetic to the Pale Bride, less so to others.  She’ll also openly hide things she doesn’t want you to see and withhold information from you for her own purposes, and falls for you weirdly easily but tries to hide it from you, and all that.  *Mute, who you unlock mid-way through the story, reflects the post-crisis society and is rather misogynist and promotes social stratification, but she’s openly willing to see multiple sides of someone, have her viewpoints challenged and actually consider things.  I really appreciate how both our rather well-rounded, having their own benefits and flaws.

Writing style is really strong.  Even though we’re talking about fictional dead people and fake persons in space, their dialogue does come through in a way that seem very down to earth and realistic.  I’m not a huge fan of the anachronism with the feudal society that still has AIs and Email and space travel and all those things, seems unnecessarily complicated, but maybe the sequel has things that fill it out. Overall, although the style is strong, I find the plot is kind of weak.  Most of the major events that happened are suggested to you midway through the story, and the only real resolution from there is that “Yep, the stuff you thought happened actually happened.”  It also leaves the most interesting questions I had completely unaddressed.  What happened to reset society and turn everyone stupid?  Why did they go with the whole generation ship thing if apparently the AI can just run things and they have suspended animation tech anyways?  Why is absolutely everyone in pathetic health there?  Again, some of this may be saved for the sequel, but it’s one thing to be leaving story strands so you can build stronger connections, it’s another entirely to be sacrificing this work in favor of the sequel.  There’s also a bit of an irritation in that there’s two routes through the game, one for each AI, and you’re locked into one or the other with absolutely zero warning and in a way that doesn’t make sense with the operating rules presented to you.  Route systems work for some stories, but they don’t really add anything here, and I think it would have been stronger if the two routes were either handled significantly differently or were just integrated into one.  Also, anytime the AIs seem to fall for you comes completely out of nowhere.  It doesn’t feel organic, or even in line with anything else you’re doing.  Just, like, the developer’s thinking “Love’s in my name so there needs to be love here so let’s add it in post”.  This is my complaint paragraph.  I have those sometimes, where I just talk up a work’s good points for a couple of paragraphs/pages then have one where I just spew bitterness all over it.  That’s this.  I don’t know why I do that.  It’s just my writing style.  Usually this goes right before the conclusion.

In conclusion, Analog: A Hate Story is actually rather strong up through about the mid-point.  Then all that stuff in the preceding paragraph happens, and the quality drops really sharply.  It’s a shame.  It builds something up really well throughout the first two-thirds of the story, then it just kind of limps through the end.  I won’t say the experience ends up being bad, though.  Just, you get a lot of sense of unfulfilled potential.  It’s probably the weakest of Christine Love’s works that I’ve read, but it does definitely have its good points.  Most of my time with it, I did enjoy, it just started to run out of more to offer after a certain point.  I’m holding out hope that Hate Plus, when I get around to that, does end up retroactively making this stronger.  A lot of things do, and this does have the potential for that.

And here’s spoilers.  For another thing that bothers me.  So skip the rest of this if you do want to pick it up and explore it fresh.  I’m giving you time here.  Take it.  I don’t know why me trying to make a post faster just leads to me typing out my random thoughts like this.  Seems like this is actually taking me longer.  Anyways, is that enough of a buffer for you?  All those people that don’t want to read this part are gone?  Good, I didn’t like them anyways.  Don’t tell them I said that, though.  Anyways.  One thing that bothers me ethically, is that people are dead because one person killed them all.  And she is unrepentent about that.  And yeah, it’s a bit more complicated than just a straight saying that.  You’ll have to play through to find out.  Because I’m still trying to protect you from spoilers even though you’re hanging out here with me.  Anyways, this character was played a horrid hand, and got abused and treated horribly by some people in this society.  The game doesn’t take a firm stance on it, but it does seem to position that she might be justified in doing so.  That it might have been the reasonable position.  And the thousands of people that never had anything to do with her, the game seems to unknowingly have her using the a very similar mindset that led to what happened to her, but acts like its something different.  And lots of people online seem to think she’s justified in doing so.  And that bothers me on a personal level.  She’s sympathetic, sure, and the game does try to present two opposing points of view on her actions, but they’re not presented equally, and the one condemning her seems to go nowhere whereas if you support her, you’ll find plenty of material doing so.  This is my own soapbox right now, and I don’t think anyone reading this will care, but I find myself invested.  Let me just state this here.  Sexism is absolutely horrible.  Abuse is completely abhorrent.  Both of those make the world an indescribably worse place.  Unrepentent mass murder is worse than both of those.  And that’s not a hard position to take.

3 responses to “Visual Novel Theatre- Analog: A Hate Story

  1. I haven’t read any of Christine Love’s VNs, though I’ve heard quite a lot. The medieval Korea timeskip thing does sound weird, though. Sometimes it’s clear that a writer wants to do some cool thing but they can’t figure out how to make it work naturally, so they just shove it in somewhere without worrying about the how.

    I have such a VN backlog now that it will take too long to get through, but it sounds like playing Digital wouldn’t be a bad idea at some point.

    • Digital is a really interesting one, and probably the one I’d recommend most out of what works of hers I’ve played. I don’t necessarily know that I’d call it the best, but it’s unique and creative and has the fewest negatives about it.

  2. Pingback: Listening/reading log #8 (May 2020) | Everything is bad for you

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